In this work, a fundamental investigation of an industrial (Cr,Al)N reactive high power pulsed magnetron sputtering (HPPMS) process is presented. The results will be used to improve the coating development for the addressed application, which is the tool coating for plastics processing industry. Substrate-oriented plasma diagnostics and deposition of the (Cr,Al)N coatings were performed for a variation of the HPPMS pulse frequency with values from f = 300 Hz to f = 2000 Hz at constant average power P = 2.5 kW and pulse length ton = 40 μs. The plasma was investigated using an oscilloscope, an intensified charge coupled device camera, phase-resolved optical emission spectroscopy, and an energy-dispersive mass spectrometer. The coating properties were determined by means of scanning electron microscopy, glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy, cantilever stress sensors, nanoindentation, and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. Regarding the plasma properties, it was found that the average energy within the plasma is nearly constant for the frequency variation. In contrast, the metal to gas ion flux ratio is changed from JM/JG = 0.51 to JM/JG = 0.10 for increasing frequency. Regarding the coating properties, a structure refinement as well as lower residual stresses, higher universal hardness, and a changing crystal orientation from (111) to (200) were observed at higher frequencies. By correlating the plasma and coating properties, it can be concluded that the change in the gas ion to metal ion flux ratio results in a competitive crystal growth of the film, which results in changing coating properties.
Fundamental study of an industrial reactive HPPMS (Cr,Al)N process
K. Bobzin, T. Brögelmann, N. C. Kruppe, M. Engels, A. von Keudell, A. Hecimovic, A. Ludwig, D. Grochla, L. Banko; Fundamental study of an industrial reactive HPPMS (Cr,Al)N process. J. Appl. Phys. 7 July 2017; 122 (1): 015302. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4990997
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